The Government of India is celebrating Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, 75 years of Independence, across the country. Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav is an embodiment of all that is progressive about India's socio-cultural, political, and economic identity. The official "Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav" journey commenced on March 12th 2021, which starts a 75-week countdown to our 75th anniversary of Independence and will end post a year on August 15th 2022. On this occasion, over one hundred American Indians, including children and senior citizens, took part in the 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' celebrations organized by the Indian Association of Sacramento (IAS) at Sacramento on Saturday, October 30th, 2021.
Consul General Dr. T.V. Nagendra Prasad from Consulate General of India San Francisco, California, Rajesh N. Naik Deputy Consul Indian Consulate, Bobbie Singh-Allen Mayor of Elk Grove City in California, Sirisha Pulipati from Rancho Cordova City Council, YK Chalaamcherla for Folsom City Council, among others took part in the celebrations.
Adhrika Satish sang the American national anthem. The national anthem of India, 'Jana Gana Mana' beautifully sung by Niel Nayyar; remembering the Indian patriotic song evokes vicarious emotions about the nation's history, traditions, and sacrifices that brought India to the brink of freedom. The audience shouted slogans of 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai'. The audience was mesmerized by watching colourful, rich Indian cultural performances for about 15 mins and congratulated the cultural show participants.
Speaking on occasion, Dr. T.V. Nagendra Prasad appreciated all the audience for taking part in the program in commemoration of the celebration of the 75 years of Independence of the country.
Mr. Shivesh Sinha and Mr. Ajit Natu, both are IAS Past Presidents, well coordinated the half-hour-long question-answer session with Dr. T.V. Nagendra Prasad. Several participants have clarified their questions on dual citizenship, OCI, Emergency Visa, recent incidents related to Gandhi Statue Vandalism by anti-national forces in the City of Davis, California, and concerns on rising intolerance in Bangladesh and Hindu Temple Destruction. Dr. T.V. Nagendra Prasad made a fun comment saying this was the toughest question/answer session after passing the IFS exam conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). "I am happy to hear over a half dozen of Indian origin American Indians have taken up Mayor positions in the State of California, and few others have taken up City Council positions to serve the community", said Dr. T.V. Nagendra Prasad. He also spoke about the services provided by the consulate and how they are trying to help people to make it easier for them to get what they need in the pandemic.
"As we celebrate Amrit Mahotsav and come together in praising our motherland by singing Vande Mataram, let us remember that every aspect of Bharat Mata that is praised in our National Song is an ode to her bountiful nature, her ability to sustain human life, and her abundant and inexhaustible natural resources", said Mr. Bhaskar Vempati, President of IAS. "Bharat with rich history and culture has progressed tremendously in the last 75 years but next 25 years will be the golden period for all of us to contribute, aspire and help to achieve the vision set by our PM Modi Ji", said Venu Mallesara – MC of the event and Web & Social Media Lead of IAS. He also mentioned the instances where the current CGI office has gone beyond the call of duty and helped the community in the hour of need, especially during COVID time.
IAS officers Vandana Sharma, Amitab Shaikh, and Gobi Ramaswamy expressed sincere thanks to the Consul General, Dy Consul, other guests, and the audience for beating Covid 10 pandemic to attend the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations.
IAS officers, IAS Board of Trustees Vinod Balakrishna, Ajit Natu, Satheesh Nagaraj, Bhavin Parikh, and Shivesh Sinha honoured Consul General, Dy Consul with a shawl and flower bouquets. Appreciating Consulate General of India San Francisco services to the local Indian Community, IAS handed over a plaque to the Consul General.
The city of Elk Grove, California, has proclaimed October as Hindu Heritage Month. Local American Indians are proud to receive this proclamation from Mayor Bobbie Singh – Allen & Rod Brewer, CSD Board of Trustee.
Mr. Vempati thanked Venu Acharya, Vijay Bhaskar, and Satheesh Nagaraj for making delicious Indian food arrangements for the audience. He thanked Shekhar Tiwari, Magesh Babu, Pushpa Venkateshan, and other volunteers for their help in the event coordination. IAS officers thanked cultural coordinator Madhuri Natu for bringing cultural performers to the stage, showcasing rich Indian cultural heritage.
Dr. Bhavin Parikh – IAS Past President, has delivered a presentation on fundraising and assistance provided to Indian Hospitals in the middle of the Covid 19 pandemic. Dr. Parikh said, "As part of the IAS initiative of providing necessary help to the hospitals in India to extend the support to the underprivileged persons of the society, the donation of about 50 Oxygen Concentrators, thousands of face masks, and an ambulance has been made; they shall be of benefit in saving lives of Covid-19 patients during this period of pandemic and further strengthen the medical support being given in COVID Care Centres/ Hospitals. To date, the donated ambulance has made 750+ trips to save the lives of patients in emergency conditions". The second wave of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and has shown that oxygen therapy is very useful in safeguarding patients' health; we are immensely grateful to all those who have donated oxygen concentrators and needed medical supplies, Dr. Parikh. "Efforts are on the way to equip hospitals with another 2 ambulances to support the hospital's emergency services", he assured.
On this occasion, IAS donated $7,500 funds to the local charity, Folsom's Hope, a non-profit based in Folsom, California, dedicated to mentoring children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. IAS also donated another $7,500 to the Indian Charity, Wishing Factory, an ISO certified (ISO 9001:2015), a not-for-profit organization based in Mumbai dedicated to improving and enriching the lives of young, underprivileged people Thalassemia Warriors (Blood Disordered people) in India.
The "Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav" celebration at Sacramento witnessed massive participation from the local American Indian Organizations. The event's highlight was the sheer diversity of the participants in terms of gender and age groups representing all parts of India. Several participants have said, "Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, which is an initiative of the Government of India to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of progressive India and the glorious history of its people, culture and achievements have come to Sacramento at the right time. Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is being celebrated in Sacramento and will strengthen the feeling of patriotism among the American Indian community here at Sacramento".
As a precaution, the organizations require all participants in this event to be fully vaccinated and advised to wear face masks to comply with COVID-19 guidelines.
Mr. Gobi Ramasamy, the joint secretary of IAS, thanked all the distinguished guests, organization/community local leaders, cultural performers, annual sponsors, and IAS board members for making the event successful.
Established in 2005, the Indian Association of Sacramento is one of the largest umbrella organizations in the Indian community. Since 2006, the IAS has been organizing India Day annually, which showcases India's cultural heritage and history. Since its inception, IAS has raised over $200,000 in funds for helping out several non-profits in and out of the USA. In the last two years, IAS raised over $60,000 funds and assisted needy people living in Greater Sacramento with face masks, meals, groceries, medical and school supplies, and supplied Oxygen Concentrators to India during India's second wave COVID-19 crisis in 2021. IAS suggested the readers visit the IAS website: http://www.iassac.org/ & FB page https://www.facebook.com/IndiaDaySacramento for more information about IAS and its events/activities spread throughout the year.
(The writer is presently acting as Media Coordinator for IAS. The views in this article are the writer's own and do not represent those of the Government of India or this publication)